How to Write Great Headlines, Every Time

“Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a headline or post title that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.” Brian Clark, Coppyblogger

In a world where people are scrolling, your content is competing for attention. The better the headline, the better the chance you get a click.

Your headline should stop the scroll.

It also should convey what your post entails. According to Copyblogger, 80% of visitors to a post will read the headline while only 20% will finish the article. 

It is the most crucial sentence in any piece of writing; treat it as such. Your headline should coincide with what you want the headline to achieve.

Here are a few different goals for headlines:

  1. Entice clicks
  2. Entice shares on social media
  3. Rank well for SEO

Let’s look at each a little more in-depth. 

1. Enticing Clicks

Getting clicks will be the primary function of most headlines. They should get people to stop scrolling and to click on your content. There are tricks such as including numbers, odd words, and more to grab attention. However, the core message must resonate with potential readers, with the right mix of information and intrigue. 

If we look at this headline, we see a couple of things that have caused it to be effective. The headlines (i) presents a clear objective or piece of information (waking up at 5 AM) and (ii) a pathway for the reader to get there.

2. Enticing Shares on Social Media

When writing headlines for social media traction, the headline should invoke an emotion in the reader, ranging from joy to anger. People share articles on social media because the content embodies something they believe or want to be perceived as by their followers. 

social shares

This headline accomplishes a couple of things. The first is that it’s straightforward, and two being that it allows the person/brand to share the article to position themselves as embodying the content. 

3. Writing Headlines for SEO

This part of headline writing isn’t sexy, but it’s useful. When you are creating a blog post that is informative and meant to gather traffic from search engines, spending time on your headline isn’t optional—if you want results.

Headlines written with SEO in mind should clearly state what the post is about. The reader has typed a question into Google, and you’re competing with the other nine results on page one. One of the best tactics here to increase your clickthrough rates is to use Google Search Console to create an exact query match. That means that your title should match what people have put into the Google search bar.

search 2

We can see that we are receiving traffic for the query “is reading fiction a waste of time”. 

This is because we went back into this post to match the query into our headline correctly. This adjustment caused this post to go from the bottom of page one to consistently ranked in the top 5 results.

That’s the difference in thousands of people coming to our site per year.


So, how do you write better headlines?

First, start with identifying what the purpose of your post is online: social media shares, clicks in feeds, or SEO clicks. After that practice writing 3-5 potential headlines for every post that goes live. To give these headlines some life you can:

  1. Add numbers
  2. Start with “How to” or “Why You Need”
  3. Invoke emotion

If you’re looking for more inspiration, I would suggest going to your favorite blog, magazine, or newspaper and look at how they craft their headlines.


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